ADS Themes 2018/19
The core of learning on the MA Architecture Programme is project-based according to a unit system made up of seven architectural design studios (ADSs), each with a unique set of concerns, methods and critical frameworks. Each ADS has approximately 16 students, with first- and second-year students working alongside each other.
ADS1: Repetition: Georgian Brutalism
Tutors: Douglas Murphy & Andrea Zanderigo (Baukuh)
By the time this academic year is over, Britain may well look very different. The UK is due to leave the European Union on 19 March 2019, cutting its ties and sailing off into the Atlantic. Economically, cracks are already appearing in the built environment – property prices are beginning to fall, developers are getting restless and it is not unthinkable that a collapse comparable to, or even worse than, the Great Recession of 2008 is about to be set off.
The decade since the Great Recession has seen the popular emergence of a new architectural seriousness that draws heavily on both stylistic and urban precedents. The ordered, thin-brick skinned terraces of the ‘New London Vernacular’ have seemingly become a dogma in the development of the capital city, pleasing planners, clients, buyers, the public and critics alike. But is this the architecture of a sophisticated generation of designers comfortable with their place in history? Or is it the architecture of austerity nostalgia, of the housing crisis, rough sleeping and food banks, the long-running British talent for aesthetic hypocrisy?...read more.
ADS2: The Popular
Tutors: David Knight, Diana Ibáñez López & Finn Williams
The ‘popular’ is one of the most contested terms in contemporary culture. Within the last few years, its political meaning has shifted from referring to a democratic corrective to elitist conventions, to referring now to the lowest common denominator of politics. If we once imagined popular politics could save us, now we fear that — reframed as populism — it will be the end of rational government, political discourse and indeed truth itself.
In recent years, public authorities have increasingly surrendered agency and decision-making to partial or inadequate measures of popular opinion. Public engagement has become concerned with ticking boxes and neutralising opposition, rather than fulfilling its potential to embrace or confront the public, let alone serve the ‘public good’. Recent UK government thinking argues that securing public support for house-building depends on development ‘reflecting local public will on issues of building design and style‘. Politics is increasingly in thrall to the popular....read more.
ADS3: OFFSETTING the OFFSHORE: On the Illusion, Delusion and Dilution of Waterfronts
Tutors: Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe
How thick is a shoreline? The distance that separates the onshore from the offshore allows for an intentionally ambiguous, malleable and interstitial void where activities that are legally restricted on one side are encouraged on the other. Through the lens of water systems, in 2018/19 ADS3 will investigate the construction of financially-built environments in order to envision modes of inhabitation between humans and other-than-humans in this era of increasingly evident man-induced climatic events. Through a range of critical spatial practices, students will take the coastline of the United Kingdom as a point of departure to design interventions that challenge the financialisation of water and the global circulation of its value.
Tutors: Nicola Koller, Tom Greenall & Matteo Mastrandrea
'At the centre of the world there is a fiction; a fictional piece of land a metre wide by a metre long. It has not been thrown up from the depths; not from the violence of lava bursting up and cooling, though there is a violence in its history. It is called Null Island, and you cannot travel there.' – Jon K Shaw & Theo Reeves-Evison
Null Island is the busiest place on Earth, but it is impossible to visit.
It is the most photographed place, but impossible to find.
This non-place is only visible to machines. Yet it is the product of an interaction between the planet, our species and technology. A place, measuring one metre long by one metre wide, where a natural order, a constructed order, and – more recently – a digital order coalesce.
ADS5: Ambiguous Architecture II
Tutors: Christopher Dyvik, Max Kahlen & Isabel Pietri
We believe in an architecture that transcends function.
This year we will continue our exploration into an architecture that is driven by the intangible qualities of space. An architecture open to interpretation and indeterminate in function. This architecture is not so much about being ‘multifunctional‘, as it is about a spatial presence with the ability for different readings. It is about ambiguity. The generosity of this architecture lies in its ability to be appropriated.
Similar to abstract art it draws attention to form and its internal rational. It sets the ground for a more intuitive discourse around the architectural elements, their literal characteristic, form, size, proportion, light, orientation, material and everything that ‘makes‘ a place in the absence of function. This is a discourse about form.
ADS6: The De-Industrial Revolution: Language of Making
Tutors: Clara Kraft, Satoshi Isono & Guan Lee
‘The architect should be designing for variable primary functions and open secondary functions.'
— Umberto Eco, 'Function and Sign: The Semiotics of Architecture'
In Umberto Eco’s seminal essay on the language of architecture, he argues for designs to have a usefulness in addition to the one denoted, one that is connoted. For Eco, we design with practical needs in mind, but end products can invariably reveal their own social-political, cultural-historical context. In 2018/19 ADS6 will continue our theme of de-industrialisation, with a focus on the semantical role of architectural production and, critically, an examination of the relationship between buildings and the ‘language of making’. The way we make and design says a lot about us as designers and the products we present to the world. Are these embedded characteristics legible within the products themselves? Is the codification of meaning outside of linguistic structures a science, or is it open for interpretation? (Here, the word ‘open’ is used in contrast to the opening quote from Eco, to highlight meaning in relation to semantics.)
ADS7: Architecture Collectives: The Future of Practice
Tutors: Cristina Gamboa (Lacol), David Burns, Godofredo Pereira & Platon Issaias
ADS7’s main research question is how can new briefs, complex programmes and forms of transdisciplinary collaboration emerge from the rethinking of the organisation of labour, protocols of decision making and frameworks of delivery of architecture? ADS7 maintains a particular focus on ecology, subjectivity and forms of living and asks students to consider design, media and visual explorations as indispensable parts of political experimentation and collective formalisations.
ADS8: Data Matter: Digital Networks, Data Centres & Posthuman Institutions
Tutors: Marina Otero Verzier & Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli with Kamil Dalkir
Every second, 2.8 million emails are sent, 30,000 phrases are Googled and 600 updates are tweeted. The amount of data uploaded to the Internet in a single second is a staggering 24,000 gigabytes. Propelled by the Internet of Things, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day. This figure grows exponentially. In fact, 90 per cent of the world’s data was generated over the last two years. Algorithmic intelligence regulates this transborder flow of information through sophisticated tracking and surveillance systems, generating immense amounts of real-time digital personhood, identities and architectures. While our datafied existences are progressively evaporating in bytes and remote connections, the material and spatial consequences of data production and consumption remain largely unanticipated.
ADS9: (Y)Our Primitive Love: A Call for Open Architecture
Tutors: John Ng, Zsuzsa Péter & James Kwang Ho Chung
Love hurts. Love tears us apart.
The Open is both unbounded and precise. It does not mean ‘anything goes’, or a total absence of architectural elements. We have become dependent on walls to give us the ability to negotiate, share and reason with others. The idea of Openness rejects this compulsion to such familiar forms of division, destroys the power of the enclosure and wipes away historical orders. The Open destroys our reliance on architectural categories of type, context, scale, functions and style as aids in conceiving space. The Open is beautiful.
ADS10: Savage Architecture: Forms of Gathering
Tutors: Gianfranco Bombaci, Matteo Costanzo & Davide Sacconi
This year ADS10 will continue to explore the idea of ‘Savage Architecture’ by using an anthropological lens to question the relationship between architecture and man. We will be look closely at the complex relationship between built form and the collective use of space, with the aim of proposing an architecture that challenges the norms and behaviours imposed by the current process of urbanisation.
If contemporary architectural practice is completely identified with the management of resources – which is to say with purely economic practice – ADS10 maintains the relationship between man and architecture is founded on a political reason that exceeds a mere quantitative logic. At the root such relationship is not the provision of comfort and shelter, or the reproduction of wealth, but rather the human need to come together. Of engaging in collective rituals. Architecture provides the material and symbolic elements to satisfy this necessity.
ADS11: Deconstruction / Re-Use
Tutors: Rotor: Renaud Haerlingen, Manon Portera, Victor Meester and Joseph Mercer
Architecture is one of the most energy intensive and wasteful industries on earth. Each year millions of tonnes of potentially re-usable building materials – timber, concrete, metals, prefabricated systems and fixtures – are destroyed or wasted in the process of demolishing or refitting existing buildings. In response to this wastage, ADS11 will investigate how architects can research, deconstruct and design architecture as a way to recycle and meaningfully contribute to circular economies. What does it mean to deconstruct one building in order to make another?
Tutors: Benjamin Reynolds & Valle Medina
What Questions are Left to Ask?
We are in the midst of witnessing a flood of major global changes brought about by the production of colossal amounts of information and the raw computer power needed to process it. In ASD12: Chronocopia we will confront those emerging conceptions of the world that – at first glance – may seem unrecognisable, but which are true indicators of our contemporary existence. Chronocopia is the ‘abundance of time’. As a condition, it has emerged from these massive qualitative changes in knowledge that our civilisation is currently producing.
As our conceptions of our contemporary world continue to evolve, we seem to be in a moment that craves ever increasing forms of optimisation – the holy grail of which involves eliminating all indeterminacies. When allied with the abstraction brought about by mass computation, our shared Real has become a sequence of media constructs that divorce us from our capacity to comprehend the world. Estrangement is our new commonality.